Ilonggo ex-soldier recounts rescue of Abu hostages

ILOILO City – Former Philippine Army captain Oliver Almonares, then commanding officer of the 15th Scout Ranger Company Special Operations Command, launched his book “The Rescue: God’s Amazing Grace” here detailing how Abu Sayyaf captives were freed in 2002.

Almonares, a native of Alimodian, Iloilo, led the operations.

Among those rescued was American missionary Gracia Burnham who told her experience of being held captive by the terrorist group in her own book “In the Presence of My Enemies.”

Burnham and husband Martin were captives of the Abu Sayyaf for more than a year.

Martin was killed during the armed encounter between government troops and the terror group in Basilan, Gracia narrated in her video greeting to Almonares during the former soldier’s book launching at Central Philippine University (CPU) in Jaro district on Wednesday.

Almonares attributed his book to his fellow Scout Rangers.

“This is also a story of my own transformation. This is historica, and the same time spiritual,” he said.

The 270-page book highlights the “action-packed” chapters of military operations, the spiritual transformation of Almonares, and the blossoming of friendship between Almonares and Burnham.

“My main focus is to write this book as an instrument to tell that the greatest rescuer of all times is Jesus Christ, the King of kings,” Almonares said.

Aside from the retelling of the historic rescue of Burnham, Almonares said the readers will also learn about the work of soldiers, particularly the Scout Rangers.

Almonares said the connection to God is important in the life of every soldier because in every armed operation, the possibility of “not coming back (to the family)” is present.

“We always need Him every time,” he said.

The idea of coming up with a book on the rescue struck Almonares when he attended “The Voice of the Murders” at Chesterton, Indiana in 2017 where Burnham was invited as main speaker.

Almonares said he does not intend to produce the book for fame or financial gain. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Silent Ranks Foundation which helps wounded soldiers in the country. (PNA)


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